desk makeover

October 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm 3 comments

eat your heart out pottery barn!

i’m lucky enough to have an awesome sunny studio and now i am working on organizing it. i used to just have the drafting desk (where i create), which meant moving stuff aside setting up on the dining room table to do paperwork. how happy my husband is that i made over this old desk!

it’s actually my desk from childhood; before that it belonged to another family member and after me my brother finished tearing it up. i’ve been talking about painting it white for years now but instead it’s lingered in our guest room.

but after painstakingly sanding down the old stain finish and adding a few coats of paint and some new hardware (look familiar? they’re the same as the drawer pulls we re-did in the kitchen. i don’t even care if it’s lame to love these drawer pulls so much *or* use them all over the house), this old desk is reborn.

despite taking for-ev-er, it’s a really simple process and i bet you have some furniture in your house that would love a chance at a new life.

  1. first determine if the existing paint is oil- or latex-based–this will determine how much prep work you have to do. (if the furniture is stained–arg!!–it’s probably oil based and has to be stripped to keep it from coming through your paint). but for paint, after cleaning the furniture, put a little alcohol (rubbing will work but denatured from the hardware store is better) on a clean white cloth or towel and swipe it on the surface. if the old paint color rubs off on the cloth or the surface of your furniture becomes a little sticky, you are in luck because it’s latex-based, which means you can prime it with a water based primer and move on. if not (arg again!), you will have to remove the old paint.
  2. to remove old stain or paint, there are chemicals you can buy at the hardware store to speed this up, but i went old school and sanded the heck out of my desk. start with coarse sandpaper, which has a low number like 80, and remove all the old paint/stain. after doing a coarse sand all over, use a finer grit sandpaper until the surface of the wood is nice and smooth. for this desk, i used 8o, then moved on to 100 and 150. to cover up old stain or paint, use the right primer. for oil based paints and stains, you’re going to need an oil-based primer (i like kilz). if you’ve sanded or have latex based paint, you can use a water-based primer but i would still do a quick sanding first.
  3. take the time before you prime and paint to patch any holes or cracks with wood putty. this includes the holes from the old hardware if you’re changing it up and drilling new holes. always prime over putty. i went crazy with the cheese whiz and faked a more expensive look by filling in the cracks where two pieces of wood joined with caulk. giggle. this makes it look like your furniture was made well enough to not have any gaps in it.
  4. now, the paint. i have a strong preference for latex based paints as they can be cleaned up with water and–if you change your mind on the paint color–easily repainted later. consider the colors already in the room your furniture piece will go into. or just follow your heart. i’ve always envisioned my desk an off-white, which happily works well with my studio, otherwise i would be forced to repaint the walls.
  5. sand in-between coats of paint. yes, i know this is more work, but you’ll get a smoother finish that will last much longer. if you want a super-smooth finish, consider borrowing or renting a sprayer, which will give you a quick and beautiful paint job.
  6. don’t forget to let everything dry for a few days before setting anything on the surface of your new awesomeness! remember, paint dries slower at lower temperatures and in higher humidity. if it’s still tacky to the touch, wait.
  7. change up the hardware for a totally new look. i’m clearly obsessed with the drawer pulls i used, and i love how they completely change the personality of the desk. there are so many choices and styles and finishes out there…it’s just about my favorite aisle at the home depot.
  8. now sit back and admire your sheer genius! make everyone else admire it, too.

Entry filed under: make your own!, studio news. Tags: , , .

jewelry–for your kitchen cabinets easy holiday swag

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. studio redux, part deux « dogwood & poppy  |  December 16, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    […] other than it looking fabulous, I’ve also felt more like making things, not to mention I’m having an easier time getting to all my goodies.  want to see the business end of my studio?  click here. […]

  • 2. Amy Hadley  |  December 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Brilliant! I have a similarly dated white desk from childhood (via my grandpa) that needs some TLC. It has never occurred to me to update w/ new knobs till I saw yours! Grandpa’s desk, get ready.

    • 3. Amy  |  December 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      oh, it was so worth it. after looking around for a while and realizing I couldn’t actually afford the desk of my dreams, I did what I usually do and made it from something I already have. consider using your oil-based painting skills, though, because the water-based latex does not wear as well. so sad. hope you’ll post before and after pictures if you decide to do it!


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